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Sensitive parenting can boost premature children's school performance
Date:7/31/2013

Sensitive parenting helps protect against the negative effects of being born prematurely on children's school success, a new study has found.

Children born prematurely are at risk of a variety of neurological impairments which can mean they are more likely to need special educational support when they reach school age.

But a new study led by the University of Warwick shows that parents of very preterm and very low birthweight (VP/VLBW) children can increase their child's academic achievement through sensitive and cognitively stimulating parenting.

Researchers looked at parenting styles of parents of children aged 6 to see what effect they had on those children's school success when they reached the age of 13.

The study found that highly sensitive parenting at age 6 boosted the academic performance of VP/VLBW children when they reached 13 to levels similar to full-term children. A parallel increase was not seen for full-term children.

However, the results also showed that more cognitively stimulating early home environments benefit all children's long-term school success, regardless of whether they were premature or not.

Professor Dieter Wolke of University of Warwick said: "By sensitive parenting, we mean adapting one's parenting to the individual child's behaviour and responses, while clearly remaining the more competent partner and setting age appropriate limits."

"So for example providing gentle feedback and suggesting potential solutions rather than taking over and solving the tasks for the child.

"Cognitively stimulating parenting is where parents include activities designed to get children thinking such as reading to them or doing puzzles together.

"We found that both these styles of parenting have a positive effect in increasing school performance, with sensitive parenting particularly effective at closing the gap in achievement between preterm and low birth-weight children
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Contact: Anna Blackaby
a.blackaby@warwick.ac.uk
44-024-761-51345
University of Warwick
Source:Eurekalert

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